By Chris Morgan
After a rather quiet Wednesday with only one game on the schedule, Thursday is a much busier day for the NHL. There are 11 contests on the slate, giving you plenty of players to choose from. Which ones should you target, and which ones should you avoid? Let’s take a look…
Sergei Bobrovsky, CLM vs. VAN ($38): Vancouver has lost four games in a row, and their record on the road is 6-16-3. They’ve also scored a mere 2.28 goals per game on 27.9 shots on net per contest. This matchup alone is reason enough to go with Bobrovsky, but Bob’s play has also been excellent. He’s posted a 2.18 GAA and a .925 save percentage. While he’s a little pricey, he’s well worth it.
GOALIE TO AVOID
Ryan Miller, VAN at CLM ($35): On the flip side of things, Miller has allowed 10 goals in his last two starts, and he has a .915 save percentage. The Jackets are a tough opponent as well, as they rank in the top five in goals per game, and their power play is the best in the league. Vancouver’s penalty kill ranks 24th, so it could be a long game for Miller if the Canucks spend some time in the box.
Alex Galchenyuk, MON at ARI ($22): Galchenyuk has scuffled a bit since returning from his most recent injury, but there’s still reason to believe in him. He’s got 11 goals and 28 points in 34 games this season, and just last year he tallied 30 goals. If he is going to find his footing, there’s a good chance he’ll do it against the Coyotes. Arizona has allowed a whopping 3.14 goals and 33.5 shots on net per game, both of which rank near the bottom of the league.
CENTER TO AVOID
Jack Eichel, BUF vs. ANA ($26): Eichel has been held scoreless in four of his last five games, and just as concerning is Anaheim’s defensive strength. The Ducks have allowed 2.49 goals and 29.2 shots on net per tilt, and their penalty kill ranks fifth in the league. Eleven of Eichel’s 25 points have come with the extra man, so that makes this a particularly tough matchup.
Jakob Silfverberg, ANA at BUF ($20): Buffalo has allowed the most shots per game in the league, giving up a staggering 33.8 on average. Silfverberg has notched 138 shots on net in 52 games, so he definitely could take advantage of the Sabres’ defensive woes. The Sabres also have the 29th-ranked penalty kill, and while Silfverberg only has six power-play points, that’s still a positive point in his favor.
Chris Kunitz, PIT at COL ($16): Kunitz hasn’t had the most impressive season, but recently his play has picked up. Over his last nine games, he’s picked up seven points. Given this matchup with the Avalanche, Kunitz’s hot streak is primed to continue. Colorado has allowed a league-worst 3.34 goals per game, and their team has a collective .896 save percentage. Kunitz is on the cheaper side, making him an interesting value play.
WINGS TO AVOID
Filip Forsberg, NAS at NYR ($20): While Henrik Lundqvist has been up-and-down this season, he has a 1.88 GAA and a .941 save percentage over his last eight games. The Rangers have also allowed only 29.5 shots on average, which ranks in the top 10 in the league. Forsberg has overcome a slow start, but he’s still only averaged 6.2 fantasy points per game. You can find several players averaging more in better matchups Thursday, and they cost less as well.
Kyle Okposo, BUF vs. ANA ($18): Both Forsberg and Okposo aren’t among the upper echelon of high-priced players, as there aren’t a lot of questionable matchups for the pricier options on this slate (Boston has a tough matchup against San Jose, but it’s hard to make a case against the red-hot duo of David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand). Okposo, though, will face a tough opponent in the Ducks. The Ducks’ defensive strengths were mentioned previously, and like his teammate Eichel, Okposo does most of his damage on the power play (17 points).
Matt Niskanen, WAS vs. DET ($19): Niskanen has been piling up the points, as he’s tallied 13 (two goals, 11 assists) over his last 12 games. On top of that, seven of those have come with the extra man. The Wings have allowed 2.92 goals per contest, and their penalty kill ranks 16th, which isn’t bad, but also isn’t terribly concerning.
Colton Parayko, STL at TOR ($15): Parayko has seven points over his last nine contests, and on the season he’s registered 129 shots on net in 54 games. On top of that, he’s thrown in 84 blocks for good measure. Toronto has both taken and allowed 32.4 shots on goal per game, meaning Parayko should find himself with plenty of opportunities on both ends of the ice. He’s averaged 6.3 fantasy points per game, and to find a player averaging more, you have to move all the way up to teammate Alex Pietrangelo ($18).
DEFENSEMEN TO AVOID
Torey Krug, BOS vs. SAN ($17): The Sharks have been outstanding defensively, as they’ve only allowed 2.31 goals and 27.3 shots on net per game. Both of those rank in the top three in the league. Additionally, while we don’t know how the firing of Claude Julien will impact the Bruins, it’s a variable that has to add a little concern to selecting Krug. Even if Julien was still behind the bench, though, you’d want to avoid Krug in this matchup.
Michael Stone, ARI vs. MON ($17): Stone has only averaged 4.5 fantasy points per game, which is a decidedly mediocre number. He’s only scored one goal all season, and has only added eight assists. Much of his limited fantasy value has come from blocked shots, but Montreal’s 29.4 shots on net per game are in the bottom 10 in the league. Several players averaging more points per game cost less, making it hard to justify opting for Stone.
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